Friday, 3 November 2017

A short trip to Cologne to see my nephew wed his Polish squeeze (and a good opportunity to slag off the Roman Catholics, something, though, only we 'cradle Catholics' are allowed to do)


Here with my son, Wesley, for my nephew’s wedding. Just a brief visit, flew in today, wedding tomorrow, fly out again tomorrow, then home for him and work for me, but worth a post (I think – perhaps I should leave it to you, my reader, whether or not it is worth it).

We flew out from Bristol at 12.10 and arrived at the airport at 15.15 local time, and already there are a few ironies to report, highlighting how Germany is Germany,

The first: planeloads of visitors and Germans arrive by the minute at the airport – as you would think – and many, like us, use the train/S Bahn to get into the city. So why on earth there should only be four ticket machines as the airport train station catering for, in our case, about 100 people – if not quite a few more - is rather beyond me. And how is this an irony?

Well, the cliché is that Germany and the Germans are hugely and enviably efficient, but just how this purported efficiency has been translated in practice when it comes to allowing passengers to buy their tickets is not at all obvious. Our flight from Bristol took one hour and ten minutes – it’s not far – but once we had reached the four machines and joined one of the four very long queues to buy tickets, we had to wait at least 25 minutes to get them. Slow just wasn’t the word. Just why there are not fare more ticket machines there and perhaps even a window or two I really don’t know.

We got to our hotel, literally just a long stone’s throw from the central station and settled in. My son, who didn’t get in and to bed until (he tells me) about 5am this morning then immediately put his head down to catch up on sleep. I am not quite as tired, and fancying a quiet cigar and a glass of Kölsch, the city’s own beer, I took myself off looking for somewhere to enjoy both. And looked and looked and looked. It’s not that there weren’t enough pubs to have a drink in but as indoor smoking has been banned for I don’t know how long and as I couldn’t find a German pub/bar with and outdoors (as in tables and chairs on the street) I finally settled for the first outdoor drinking establishment I could find: a Thai restaurant which anyway deals more in takeaways than sitdown meals. And the Kölsch I ordered and am now drinking is sadly from a bottle, not on tap which is usually the nicest. Oh, well. At least it isn’t the end of civilisation.

. . . 

The wedding tomorrow is nearby, though across the rive at St Heribert’s (unlike me, my sister and her family have stayed true to the faith so it is a Roman Catholic mass and wedding ceremony. The double whammy is that my nephew’s bride-to-be is Polish, pretty much the Irish of Eastern Europe when it comes to Catholicism, although, of course, in that very sane way of theirs which is sadly still not acknowledged, Ireland has been rapidly putting as much distance as it can between itself and the RC faith (too many folk abused by priests and too many unmarried mothers in decades gone by treated like less than shit by the church and her officials and nuns for there to be much love lost).

(Just been tapped up for five euros – I’m not usually as sympathetic, especially as the guy only wants it for booze, but it seemed the quickest way to move him on and carry on writing. Shame is me.)

So although I’m not really looking forward to the ceremony – all that quasi-mystical Lamb of God stuff and saviour of the world bollocks sounds far too much like Doctor Who for me, Time Lords and the rest of it – I am looking forward to the do afterwards. In fact, there are two dos, one immediately after the ceremony at a brewery, with German beer and local tapas (it says on the invite), and then the reception afterwards. And for all their faults – as in every nation has its faults - the Germans do do a good do. I love them. Don’t know how long it will be going on for, but the following morning we shall have to be up early to catch our flight back to Old Blighty, bloody 11.10! Oh, well.

. . . 

And what else? Not written here for a while, so I’m sure there must be something to waffle on about until I have finished the second bottle of beer I have just ordered. Oh, yes, I’ve signed up to Alamy, the photo agency, though I must also tell you that anyone can do it. If pictures you submit are technically OK, have ‘context’ which of course means they want pretty bog standard pix rather than the kind of arty-farty stuff I have made my own, they will take everything.

I found out about it because a guy I work with has also been submitting pictures and told me all about it. Alamy want as many as you can supply – given the above proviso – because they more they can offer anyone coming their way, they more they will sell. Simple, really. To see what I am talking about, just visit the website – – then type in whatever you want to type in, the name of your home town, for example, and take a look at what’s there. Bog standard piccies of everything and everywhere, and I’ve decided that when I do call it a day at work, I shall l spend a few days taking loads and loads of pix and submitting them. And I should stress that anyone can do it. It’s just that the pictures must conform to their criteria, for example, if people are in the picture and can be recognise, you must get their express consent for the picture to be submitted. Similarly, anything which might be a trademark in a picture should be avoided.

. . . 

Köln was, and probably still is a very RC city, so as I write, at 18.15 – 6.15pm in old money – pretty much every church around as well as the Dom is ringing its bells. Old habits die hard. And I don’t doubt that when the time comes and I am a breath away from death, I, too, shall throw in the towel and cry ‘I was wrong, you are right, and please don’t send me to Hell!’ And here is an occasion to record the last words of one Voltaire, a sane atheist if ever there were one. He was on his deathbed when the local priest came to see him and pleaded with him to renounce the Devil and all his works. ‘Now,’ Voltaire is reported to have replied, ‘is not the time to be making new enemies.’ Boom, boom, though quite who was around to record those last words is not quite clear.

PS Just remembered one last thing, but I shall leave it for another post as the good lady is worthy a post all of her own: Susan Wharton, the widow of Michael Wharton, known professionally as Peter Simple, has died.

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